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When reading Vilém Flusser one does not find any concept of epistemology, and the reason for this is clear: he wants to avoid presenting a “user’s manual” and to rule out that his work will be merely consumed (Post-History, 2013, p. 2). Instead, Flusser proposes “tasks” that indicate the urgent need of a “reformulation of society’s communicational fabric” (ibid., p. 58). For this reason, it is perfectly understandable that the tasks are constructed as a collection of activities without a clear and predefined direction. In this structure, one can identify the following aspects:

(1) In order to overcome academic archaism, it is necessary to create an epistemology of the “concrete,” which, hidden by the schemata of academic disciplines, will be merely perceived as a “guideline.”

(2) The main idea consists in asking questions, but this will be shaped by explanatory interests that fail to hide their ideology of the goals to be achieved; by ultimate interests which answer the question “why?” and sharp-wittedly exhaust the discourse; as well as by causal interests whose answers to the question “how?” clearly imply obvious consequences (ibid., pp. 35–36).

(3) Among these deficiencies, the decisive questions that transform science into a set of scientific values emerge. These values are turned into an unapproved consensus and into “symbols of the concrete”: The epistemological task of posing questions results in bad questions. In the meantime “[s]cientic knowledge has become absurd” (ibid., p. 41) and “[s]cience has become an apparatus” (ibid., p. 42) encoded by anti-epistemological symmetries.

In this context, it is not surprising that in Flusser’s texts we find only suggestions of tasks where asking questions serves the purpose of overcoming the danger of doubting doubt, and asking questions is turned into knowledge about how to ask questions (On Doubt, 2014, pp. 67–68). This is the legacy for overcoming the “loneliness” of knowledge: discovering the asymmetry between subject and object which science’s epistemology thematizes between dialogic subjects (Post-History, pp.47–49).

Original article by Lucrécia D’Alessio Ferrara in Flusseriana

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epistemology.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 (external edit)